MARION COUNTY, Fla. – School districts across the country are experiencing teacher shortages. While it’s been difficult to find teachers the traditional way these days, Marion County’s Public Education Foundation is supporting current district employees who want to be teachers through a scholarship program.
It’s called ‘Teacher To Be.’ The program offering $2,500 scholarships to non-instructional employees already working for Marion County Public Schools, who want to become teachers.
At the beginning of October, Marion County Public Schools reported 85 teacher vacancies. The Public Education Foundation showing there is hope, with an increase of interest within the school district for non-instructional employees who want to become teachers.
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“Despite the challenges in our schools right now, despite how difficult times have been for our teachers. We have 13 current employees who say right now, I know what I’m called to do and that is to teach,” Executive Director of the Public Education Foundation of Marion County Meghan Magamoll said.
The Public Education Foundation is working to raise money to help those employees pay for school. Sparr Elementary School Principal, Gay Street entered the ‘Teacher To Be’ program nearly 30 years ago.
“At the time I was a school secretary, believe it or not,” Street said. “I wanted to go to school, but we didn’t have the financial means. The ‘Teacher To Be’ scholarship allowed me to live my dream and my purpose.”
Current district employees can apply for $2,500 scholarships to help them earn a degree in education.
The catch. They have to be enrolled in college and commit to staying with the school district upon graduation.
“Investing in them, we know that it will bring better retention rates because they already know what it’s like to be in a classroom and want to be a teacher,” Magamoll said.
Magamoll said the Public Education Foundation typically budgets for three to four scholarships a year which is the typical number of qualified applicants they have. This year, it has more than triple the number of qualified applicants. She said it will need $26,500 to provide scholarships to all of them.
“Its’ motivating and inspirational and to hear their reasons why they want to become teachers, especially in this challenging time and it makes us want to fundraise even more,” Magamoll said.
Even Street gives back to the program that has given her so much. She donates a portion of her salary to the Foundation. She hopes others will give back to help support the next generation of teachers in Marion County and ultimately helping students.
“I feel very proud and humbled because somebody cared enough to give so that I can live out my dream and purpose, and now I can do the same thing,” Street said. “We are losing teachers, but we’re right behind them growing them up so it’s encouraging.”
Click here to donate to the Teacher To Be Scholarship.